ABOUT 300 Cabarita and surrounding locals "paddled out" in respect for drowned teenager Samuel Mwangi Macharia and his foster family this afternoon.
Difficulty for some while paddling through persistent and large swells seemed synonymous with the struggle faced by the Zietlow family and others close to Sam.
Paddlers and floaters assisted by two inflatable rescue boats formed a circle about 500m from the main beach.
A large set of waves pulsed through and broke the circle after which it reformed further east, respects were paid and the ceremony finished with cheering heard from the headland.
Local of three years David Emery did not participate but said the stirring proceedings were a fitting farewell and showed "respect for his family and for the loss of his life".
"It shows the community appreciates what the family has gone through.
"It's a reasonably tight-knit community here, as far as I'm aware; laid back but quite caring, and interested in what goes on in their area.
"I'm impressed by the effort everyone has put into it: paying respects to a family many of them might not even know."
Talented footballer Sam drowned on the afternoon of December 4 after a run and a swim.
After a comprehensive search his body was found by surf life savers at Salt on December 8.
Mr Emery said it was easy for people to get "caught out of their depth" along the Tweed's coastline.
"There's well marked, designated areas, but it's hard to patrol every inch of this beach.
"You've got to be so careful out there and know what you're doing.
"I think the lifeguards around here do a great job and they're pretty well catered for, considering they have to look after people on both sides of the headland.
"If people could give generously to surf life savers it would be money well spent," he said.
The Zietlow family and Samuel's Kenyan family invite the community to attend a service to be held in The Shed at Lindisfarne Anglican Grammar School, led by Father Glen Loughrey from 11am (NSW) on Wednesday, December 21.
Sam's "Aussie" dad, Mr Zietlow, will read the eulogy.
In memory of Sam, orange ribbons will be available at the service for a gold coin donation.
The families have requested donations to Sam's legacy in lieu of flowers.
Donations can be made at any Commonwealth Bank or online - BSB: 062580 Account Number: 10231433.
Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.